Reformed Perspective is a print publication published 6 times a year and is sent out to 10,000 households across Canada to members of the NAPARC churches. These readers are from a conservative Reformed background. It is aimed at a broad age group encompassing the entire family.
Reformed Perspective is also a website that posts 5+ articles a week, that can go out to just about anyone anywhere. Most online readers still come from some sort of Reformed background.
Our purpose is to provide a Reformed reflection on world events, and more specifically Canadian events, whether they be technological, economical, cultural, or some other ‘al.
12 thoughts on writing
- Is it relevant, practical/Reformed? – Why should Reformed Perspective, and not some secular magazine, print your article? Why should Christians care about your topic, and what, perhaps, should they do about it?
- Grab the reader quickly – Engage your readers immediately or you won’t engage them at all. Give readers a reason to start reading by laying out your main point or theme right away.
- Vary your vocab – Synonyms are your friend. Metaphors and similes can be. But…
- Avoid flowery language and professional jargon – Wordiness is bad, and adjectives are often the root cause, so cut, cut, cut. When it comes to terminology, prefer the simple to the complex. Use analogies to explain technical subjects. You are trying to reach an audience that doesn’t already know your field of expertise, and so isn’t going to know its lingo.
- Vary sentence length – Longer sentences are key in any article, to convey the bulk of the information, but they do require effort from the reader, who has to slow down to take it all in. Short sentences are punchier. Readers can digest the thought. But one after another makes things choppy. Boring. So be sure use long sentences along with shorter ones to keep things interesting.
- Bullet points/numbered lists are great – They make it easier for your reader to follow and understand your points.
- Proofread. Then proofread some more. – Getting an editing team to catch the mistakes every writer makes in grammar, logic, and clarity. It starts with reading your article out loud. Next get another set of eyes – or 2, 3, or 4 others – to read it. And find someone who thinks differently to catch errors/oversights in your argument.
- Offer more than your opinion – If you are using a host of ifs, buts, maybes and in my opinions then you may need to do more research so you can offer readers something more certain.
- But don’t overstate your case – Some issues are clearer than others. so when there is room for debate, we we want to graciously grant that it is so. To persuade those who disagree, we need to engage with their best points, which we can’t do if we overlook them or act as if those points don’t even exist.
- Different mediums lend themselves to different messages – Our “News in Perspective” column are shorter, just 200-600 words, while our feature article might be 3,000. Longer articles lend themselves to stronger conclusions, because they have the space to make the supportive argument. Shorter articles won’t have the same space to nail down a subject, so might offer only a single thought for consideration. That they are an incomplete argument is fine, so long as they are presented as such.
- Show, don’t tell – As Marvin Olasky once put it, we want to have “sensational facts; understated prose.” In a world of endless hype, we’ll let the facts (not the adjectives) do the heavy lifting. So if something is outrageous, we don’t want to say it is, we want to show it is.
- Criticism requires tact – Be constructive by trying to include solutions to any problems you point out (Prov. 15:1-4).
- How is it biblical? – This is the first point again, for emphasis. Anyone can have an opinion, but what we’re after is God’s Truth, and how we can live it out, to His glory, in our everyday.
Please also see “How to make your editor actually like you” for more helpful tips. We don’t have a preferred Bible translation but do steer clear of the KJV. The Bible is old, but God’s Word is for today too so use a modern translation that conveys that (NASB, ESV, etc.). Reformed Perspective publishes only original material, with occasional exceptions. If an article warrants an exception explain why.
Thoughts for younger writers
We appreciate contributions from writers of all ages, but many topics that Reformed Perspective covers do require an older author. That’s because articles can be thought of as a gift of time – a writer who has spent a lot of time thinking through an issue biblically then puts those thoughts on paper in as concise and compelling a way as he or she can. The article can be read in minutes, but the time invested in its creation is a matter of hours, and, for some topics, will even be a matter of years or decades. That’s what’s involved when we have a businessman write about how sales is a noble calling – this was a topic that has been percolating in the back of his head for a very long time.
While a younger writer is going to have fewer topics they can write on with this level of expertise, fewer is very different from none. Identify areas of interest where you do know more because you’ve been thinking on the that topic long and hard. One example from an author in her twenties is this article on hospitality. She has been working through this for a few years, and so we as readers get to benefit from all her thinking and doing, with all of that experience boiled down to a few minutes worth of reading.
So what are some topics that your parents, or grandparents might turn to you for advice? In what ways have you, or others you know, built on the “shoulders of giants” so that you can see further and know more than the previous generation? What temptations are particularly trying these days and what help can you offer? Have you thought through the best way to choose a career, or do you have ideas on how to get young people active and engaged in evangelism, or political actions, or helping their neighbors? What are some books every young person or anyone at all needs to read?
The key question then is, what expertise/wisdom/insight do you have that we can all benefit from?
Length: Our preferable article size is anywhere from 600-2000 words. Shorter and longer articles will be considered but we may not read contributions over 2500 words. “News in Perspective” items (for the magazine’s news column) can be as short as 150 words, and as long as 600.
References/Endnotes: Try to include references within the body of the article. Endnotes should only be used if including the references within the text body becomes cumbersome. Please do not use your word processor’s auto-footnoting feature – that is formatting the editor will then have to undo. Instead just include endnotes manually, preferably noting it in the text this way: (1), (2), etc.
Identification: Include your name, address, church affiliation, and relevant expertise.
Pictures: They always help make your article more readable. Relevant information (such as names of people, location, permissions, etc.) should be included.
Reformed Perspective reserves the right to make editorial changes. We will edit on the basis of spelling, grammar, eloquence, length, factual accuracy, and style.
If your original article is accepted Reformed Perspective will pay a small honorarium. For articles from 800-2000 words the honorarium ranges from $50 – $200. We also pay $50 for any original comics we publish.
Jon Dykstra – Editor